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RDB American Tour 2011


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#76 Andre Yew

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 10:16 AM

I'm curious how full the Tuesday audience was. On Wednesday, it seemed like less than half the house was filled. In retrospect, perhaps that wasn't such a bad thing.

#77 Eva Kistrup

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 11:50 AM

one more review:

http://www.seedance....ish-ballet.html

#78 checkwriter

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 07:16 PM

I would have liked to see Etudes or The Lesson, as I have seen them both by others and would like to see them done by the masters, so to speak.


I was fortunate to be able to see Etudes (twice) earlier this month in Copenhagen. Both performances were very impressive. It's such a rigorous, unforgiving piece, and very few companies would be capable of pulling it off as well as did the RDB. It would have been a good piece to bring to the States, except for the toll it exacts on the dancers. What a punishing ballet . . . .

#79 Andre Yew

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Posted 29 May 2011 - 07:01 PM

Well, that was a big letdown. After a whole year of anticipation of finally seeing this great company in person, I was severely underwhelmed. Hopefully, they'll perform up to their reputation in later cities.

We saw their Napoli today (Sunday matinee to a 2/3-filled house), and it's a schizophrenic ballet done with not the highest levels of taste. Act 1 takes place in a 50s La Dolce Vita-esque Italian town, which is not a bad concept unless you spice things up with Jersey Shore-style Italian stereotyping. I suppose embarrassing ethnic stereotyping is kind of normal in classical ballet. Beyond the emphatic punctuation in the mime (perhaps as a way of giving it an Italian accent), 'What?!" seemed to comprise most of their mime vocabulary --- imagine that said in the worst possible Italian accent, and you get the idea of act 1. The mime beyond that was also unclear and ugly, which is not a good thing when mime drives most of the action in the 1st act. There was little dancing in act 1, though it did look pretty good.

Act 2 is creepy weird, with some beautiful images in spots, especially when the curtain first goes up. The lighting people and background design people deserve applause here. But the act seems entirely superfluous, and the dancing style for the most part didn't fit with what we think of as the Bournonville style. The corps dance, which is like half the act, could have been pulled from any of the other classic ballets. Apparently, this act is lost, and every production of this ballet makes this act up. Act 2 does check off the "Underwater grotto" item from the standard ballet checklist.

Act 3 is the set of diverts we normally see, and while the style was there, the dancing wasn't. People were still falling off their legs, corps lines weren't straight or spaced evenly, and worst of all, the dancing seemed joyless. There was one or two bright spots (Teresina and the male solo before that), but this act, which should have been a crowning jewel for the company, was a big letdown. I've seen regional companies perform this better both technically and expressively. They used the traditional costumes for the dancers, but in the crowd were mixed people from act 1 in their modern clothing, which made for a dissonant-looking stage. I thought this was pretty much a trainwreck of a production. Good luck to the rest of you in their later cities!

#80 papeetepatrick

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Posted 29 May 2011 - 08:43 PM

These reports are depressing and surprising. Reminds me of someone writing some 6 months ago maybe, about the Royal in 'A Month in the Country', I believe in D.C., and then we saw the glorious video of the old 1975 (?) with Dowell and Seymour. It's not that difficult to find a number of companies showing some deterioration, it seems. I can't think of any but POB that come across as constantly fit (but not always in terms of new works), but I haven't kept up with the Bolshoi much, nor seen them live since the 70s.

I had thought I was going to hear all about magics of all kinds, and precision everythings. These stories I would expect to hear about other companies. And some of what Andre reports doesn't have to do with being on tour. Yes, I also hope that the NYC perfs. are going to be better than what you and a couple of others saw, but I'm not getting my hopes up at this point.

#81 Eva Kistrup

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Posted 29 May 2011 - 11:18 PM

There are two rather positive reviews:

First
http://www.ocregiste...o-teresina.html

#82 Eva Kistrup

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Posted 29 May 2011 - 11:22 PM

and here
http://www.niuzer.co...ts-5015710.html

In both review I recogniced the production and I also find that the reviewers have a good understanding of why Hübbe wanted to update Napoli. As Lewis Seagal writes the new production does not eclipse the traditional staging (which we will likely see again in a few seasons) but it has helped the younger company to claim Bournonville as a "new" choreographer

#83 ksk04

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 12:57 AM

Napoli was certainly a better experience than the Nordic choreographers mixed bill...but again I felt it was sort of a mixed bag. The sets for Napoli are lovely, and the digitally projected backdrops are pretty neat and work especially well in the grotto sequence in Act II, where Teresina descends through the various oceanic levels. The costuming is also gorgeous...the 50s style outfits of Act 1 are beautiful and the Naiads in Act II are even more impressive with their shimmering sea colors.

Act I was extremely underwhelming; no one even makes a move to dance for what seems like the first 10 minutes and then the sailor boys arrive with one grand jete and then it's back to more mime. The problem with this mime is that there is no direction to it. It's 40 minutes of everyone going "What" or "NO!" which doesn't make a story or help to tell one. I would wager there are maybe 7-9 total minutes of dancing in Act I, and none of it is choreographically interesting, leaving the leads with little to work with. Teresina's drowning happens so fast it's almost incomprehensible that it occurs until her mother is throwing dirt at Gennaro. There was another incomprehensible episode with a cross-dressing man who mimes singing to a horn solo (Thomas Lund? program notes do not say anything at all about this interlude) that takes 5 minutes longer than it needed to.

Amy Watson is a lovely dancer (she has beautiful legs and feet) but I felt nothing for her Teresina. Her Gennaro, Alexander Staeger, is so diminutive that you wonder if he will be able to lift her when the going gets tough in any pas de deux (lucky for him, it doesn't). They were a generally pleasing couple, but there is no tension built into the ballet so anything they (mostly Watson, Staeger was in strict business-only mode) try to do doesn't add up to much.

Act II is pretty...with a corps of well-trained women you expect some good dancing to occur; again it's often fluff but at least everyone is moving and no one is walking around with a cigarette wrenched in their mouth for 5 minutes straight (hint: you gotta exhale at some point, character dancers). I just saw Neumeier's Little Mermaid so it's almost impossible to not compare the underwater transformations that take place. In Napoli we are supposed to see Golfo (Jean-Lucien Massot) as a threatening sea demon who steals Teresina away...well, he came off as a fairly decent dude, if you ask me. Teresina seemed a bit worried about becoming a Naiad, but that quickly passes and when Gennaro comes to rescue her, there is a small test of wills to see whether Gennaro will overpower Golfo but Golfo just kind of shrinks off into the corner and wilts. No tension involved, no worry things will ever end badly for our leads. Neumeier's Sea Witch is terrifying, on the other hand, a truly powerful destructive force who ruthlessly commands the sea creatures-Staeger's Gennaro wouldn't have stood a chance against him.

Act III is where the dancing gets down to business. It is all variations, all the time. We haven't lost the Italian townspeople, but they've been thoughtfully given tambourines and complex clapping routines to keep their hands busy in the background in lieu of mime-yelling at each other (Morton Eggert, as Peppo, one of Teresina's suitors from the first act is particularly amusing--one gets the feeling he is charged with keeping the background livened up and gets up to much mischief). The choreography here is rich and after so much non-dancing it's exciting to see dancers charging forward with choreography. Jodie Thomas (small, very blonde-hopefully id'ing her correctly) was a standout in the Napoli pas de six--she was so light on her feet and fluid. Her variation was all small jumps that ended on a balanced accent of some sort, she never hit the accent the same way drawing your attention perhaps to her foot or her fingertips.

Needless to say, I was very happy to see the production--I just wish there was more dancing to it, or mime with a purpose. The theater was pretty empty--I was in the mid orchestra and it was basically empty behind me. It's a shame, but probably had a lot to do with Memorial Day.

#84 PeggyR

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:52 PM

From iPhone

1st intermission after The Lesson: weird weider weirdest... Excellent performances, esp Thomas Lund as homicidal ballet teacher. Seemed to be channeling Kevin Spacey in American Beauty,

On to La Sylhide.

#85 Millie

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 08:14 AM

I have some extra tickets for RDB in New York that I would like to sell. Daughter is ill and not able to attend.

There are two tickets for Wednesday June 15, the mixed program. Front row orchestra.

Also, one ticket for Sylphide for Saturday evening June 18. I can't remember if it is row 6 or 7, in the orchestra.

For some reason, I am not able to PM here, but I do have PM privileges over on the sister site, Ballet Talk for dancers.

Let me know if you are interested.

Thanks. Millie

#86 PeggyR

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 08:32 AM

Still on iPhone so short post

After other negative comments. It's a pleasure yo report that La Sphide is lovely. Be warned tho: despite being informed there would be two 30 min inteissions, first intermission lAsted a full 55 mins. Much rebellious muttering (this is Berkeley - rebellion lurks everywhere). Well worth the wait tho.

More re perfs later-can't stand this keyboard (plus on bus and ride bumpy).

#87 Millie

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 09:19 AM

I heard that RDB was dealing with huge technical difficulties with the sets last night, due to the small size of the theatre. They had to take the sets for the Lesson outside into waiting trucks, then haul the Sylphide sets back in from the truck, having problems turning the big sets. That is why the long intermission. Also, the floor was terribly slippery causing some injuries, and some props not functioning. They are used to working in bigger stage settings.

I hope they are able to wrestle the sets in and cut down on the time tonight.

#88 PeggyR

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 01:54 PM

I heard that RDB was dealing with huge technical difficulties with the sets last night, due to the small size of the theatre. They had to take the sets for the Lesson outside into waiting trucks, then haul the Sylphide sets back in from the truck, having problems turning the big sets. That is why the long intermission. Also, the floor was terribly slippery causing some injuries, and some props not functioning. They are used to working in bigger stage settings.

I hope they are able to wrestle the sets in and cut down on the time tonight.

Re the looooong intermission between The Lesson and La Sylphide: that's pretty much what we thought it must be. The sets were gorgeous for both ballets -- very elaborate and realistic and BIG. For La Sylphide Act 1, a two-story set with fireplace, stairs, balcony, a huge window with what looked like real glass (you could easily see reflections), and a door on the second floor that slammed resoundingly every time it closed. Maybe that was the prop that didn't work.

As to injuries, that's awful. I only saw one actual fall -- the bagpipe player went down hard, though luckily he got up and continued -- but I had the impression everyone was holding back slightly due to limited space. During the wedding party dancing, the stage was definitely overcrowded, the lines of folk dancers ragged. Even the 16 sylphs in Act 2 looked crowded, although aside from that they were splendid.

As to the dancing, it's hard to find anything to criticize. Mads Blangstrup's James was ardent and well danced, although I suspect he would have been even better with space to stretch out more. Caroline Cavallo's Sylph was lovely. She doesn't have high jumps or glittering batterie; what she has are ballon, delicacy, liquid bourees and intense musicality.

A word has to be said for the Berkeley Symphony, which did well, I thought, with what must be unfamiliar music.

#89 Anne

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 10:13 AM


Both Teresinas are good, though I prefer Amy Watson, having more temperament than the delicate and refined Susanne Grinder.


I'll be seeing Ms. Grinder as the Sylph. Is her 'delicacy and refinement' perfect for it? I bet it's going to be really exquisite.

Charming photos I just found:

http://www.ballerina...com/grinder.htm


I might be too late in my answer (I haven't visited this site for a longer period and I seem to have missed out on a lot of things concerning the RDB tour - I'm a bit shocked, and sad too, that they have had such a bad start on their tour) but I think Susanne Grinder has the potential, physically as well as psychologically, to be a very exquisite Sylph. When I saw her in La Sylphide more than a year ago she still hadn't fully developed into the character, but I think that over time she will be one the great Sylphs. Maybe you have already seen her perform? (I'm not quite updated on their tour schedule.)
Thank you for the link to the photos!

#90 papeetepatrick

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 12:24 PM



Both Teresinas are good, though I prefer Amy Watson, having more temperament than the delicate and refined Susanne Grinder.


I'll be seeing Ms. Grinder as the Sylph. Is her 'delicacy and refinement' perfect for it? I bet it's going to be really exquisite.

Charming photos I just found:

http://www.ballerina...com/grinder.htm


I might be too late in my answer (I haven't visited this site for a longer period and I seem to have missed out on a lot of things concerning the RDB tour - I'm a bit shocked, and sad too, that they have had such a bad start on their tour) but I think Susanne Grinder has the potential, physically as well as psychologically, to be a very exquisite Sylph. When I saw her in La Sylphide more than a year ago she still hadn't fully developed into the character, but I think that over time she will be one the great Sylphs. Maybe you have already seen her perform? (I'm not quite updated on their tour schedule.)
Thank you for the link to the photos!


Thank you, Anne. No, I haven't seen her ever, nor anybody in the RDB except Hubbe himself when he was with NYCB; he was one of my favourite dancers of my balletgoing life. But I have the feeling that she is going to be wonderful, too, and I am sure they're going to be in good shape by the time they get here--really, it's hard to imagine that at least 'La Sylphide' won't be one of those 'once in a lifetime' experiences. I appreciate what you've said about Ms. Grinder--because even if she's still 'evolving into the role', there's bound to be a lot there already.


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